Don't expect the North Queensland Cowboys to cut the Warriors any slack this Saturday night - that's the warning from the reigning premiers' superstar Johnathan Thurston.

After the Warriors surprisingly dropped a home match against South Sydney at the weekend, the road to make the NRL's top eight finals just got a helluva lot steeper for the Auckland-based franchise.

With three matches to go starting with the away clash with the Cowboys, the Warriors must win at least two games to remain in the hunt for a finals berth.

But the Cowboys also have their share of problems, prompting fighting talk from Thurston that suggests the Warriors shouldn't be counting on getting one of those victories at the expense of the Cowboys.


Thurston admitted his concern that North Queensland has dropped its last three games after an upset 22-10 loss to the Sydney Roosters yesterday.

He warned the Cowboys they may not even make the finals unless they snap out of the worrying form slump.

But he also warned the go-switch must be turned on now, starting with the Warriors.

The Cowboys were limp in defence, missing 41 tackles, and disjointed with the ball as they fell to their third straight defeat, and second straight loss to a bottom eight team.

North Queensland is sitting fifth on the ladder with three rounds to go and the 28 competition points they have accumulated is usually the cut-off point for finals action.

However, teams have missed out on the finals despite winning 12 games and with matches against finals contenders the Warriors, Canterbury and Gold Coast to come, the Cowboys are far from a September certainty.

"That (back-to-back titles) is the furthest thing from our mind at the moment," Thurston said.

"It's about getting a little bit of confidence back and working hard to try and get that win.

"Finals could be out the back door as well if we keep going the way we are. We've got a lot to work on. We need to turn it around quickly.

"We're not fighting for it, not fighting for the scraps. We're not urgent enough to win those little contests.

"We need to turn it around quick and it's going to take everyone at the club to do it.

"We need to fight ourselves out of this hole we've dug ourselves into. Not one person can do it, it's going to take everyone to get us out of it. We need to have a look at ourselves."

History is working against the Cowboys. The Bulldogs in 1995 were the last team to win the grand final after finishing outside the top four and the last club to win back-to-back titles was the Broncos in 1992-93.

The Cowboys have been below their best since State of Origin started in June, however they are now at their lowest at the worst possible time.

Having started the season with a 7-2 record, North Queensland has lost seven of their past 12 games and struggled for continuity in their team and consistency on the field.

Premiership players Jake Granville (broken hand), Ben Hannant (knee) and Antonio Winterstein (knee) missed the Roosters game but the Cowboys' problems are deeper-seeded than a few omissions.

"There's no shortcut to get out of it. You've got to work your way out," coach Paul Green said.

"We're filthy about the last two games. We know we're not at our best but it's not far away either.

"It's going to take a bit of effort to get back to that point. We've got to fight and scrap.

"We've seen the Broncos come out the other side. We've got to fight a little bit harder.

"We're not far off. It's important we stick together and don't lose confidence in what we're doing because we know it works."